Region 6 News Release: USDL-OSHA-98-93-11-6
Friday, November 6, 1998
Contact: Diana Petterson or Beverly Sepulveda, (214) 767-4776, ext. 222 or 221
OSHA PROPOSES $109,500 PENALTY AGAINST PETE MERCER, INC. OF CHATHAM, LOUISIANA
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Pete Mercer Inc., of Chatham, Louisiana, for alleged safety and health violations with proposed penalties of $109,500, announced the U.S. Department of Labor.
The investigation, which began in May from a complaint, alleged that a cave-in occurred and two employees were injured while replacing underground cross drain culverts on Highway 4 between Vixon and Chatham. Employees were continuing to be exposed to the hazards of an unshored excavation even after the alleged accident.
Peter Mercer Inc., a construction company that mainly performs ditch, drainage and culvert work, employs about 12 people.
The OSHA investigation found that the employer had not taken the appropriate measures to protect its employees before or after the cave-in nor were any measures taken to protect the employees when the company was informed, on site, of the apparent violative conditions. The company was cited for five willful, two serious and one other-than-serious violations.
The willful violations are due to the lack of hard hats in the excavation; trench walls encumbered by heavy equipment and spoil pile; the undermining of an adjoining traffic lane; the failure of any safety action taken after the cave-in and the lack of any protective system for the trench to prevent a cave-in. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Acts.
The serious violations addresses company's lack of a safety program for the employees; the accumulation of water in the trench and the failure of the diking system to prevent water from entering the trench. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The other than serious violation addresses OSHA's record keeping requirements, in that the company made no record of the trench cave-in that occurred.
The company has 15 days from the receipt of the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.